The Artist Writes:
I don't normally paint "blood
and thunder" scenes; I feel that they come very close to
"glorifying war"; never my intent - but I thought that I
just had to make an exception with this one. It's one of the very few
examples of a submarine "making its mark" whilst surfaced - just
too good to miss !
folks ! Lottsa flares, rockets, shells etc. etc.
Parche, the SS384, achieved fame on July 31, 1944. Her skipper,
Lawson P. ("Red") Ramage, had worked his way into the middle of
a Japanese convoy in the pre-dawn hours of that morning, and soon had his
hands full with a very busy day.
two torpedoes at one of the ships, Ramage realised that its evasive
manouevering had given him a chance at shots at two tankers and a Japanese
Naval escort. Firing no less than eight torpedoes in quick succession,
from both stern and bow tubes, he took care of both tankers. Mayhem ensued
convoy started to break up, escorts dashed in all directions, and firing
at the rogue sub. came from every-which-where !
a full forty-five minutes, on the surface, with only himself and
his executive officer on the conning tower, Ramage used the big fleet
submarine like a PT boat. One can only imagine what it was like to be
working in the engine room or the torpedo rooms of Parche during
the action ! At one point, she narrowly avoided being rammed, and passed a
Japanese vessel going in the opposite direction a mere fifty feet away !
So close that Ramage and his exec. exchanged enraged insults and gestures
with the equally enraged Japanese crew !
John Meek's "Pacific
the unharmed submarine was able to disengage and slip away into the
early morning darkness. Behind him, "Red" Ramage left two
confirmed sinkings totalling 15000 tons, several more thousand tons of
damaged merchant and naval shipping, a broken convoy that was in total
disarray and still firing at itself and, in conjunction with USS Steelhead
- which was also in the vicinity - assisted in the sinking of three more
ships ! A remarkable performance - and a thundering good yarn !
when interviewed about the exploit, Commander Ramage expressed his
motivation at the time .... "...I got mad ... !" he said.
getting mad, Ramage was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, and Parche
received a Presidential Citation.
a more full acount of this action, and a complete history of this boat,
you are well advised to go to the Parche website (at
www.parche.org) or try to get hold of a copy of Theodore Roscoe's
marvellous (but now long out of print) book "United States
Submarine Operations in World War II", which, although a
semi-official tome, is written with a most wonderful "gung-ho" panache!
- let's not forget - there are real guys on that burning tanker in the
background........my own father was on tankers throughout WWII.....not
all wine and roses.